Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ottawa looking to hire new ‘night mayor,’ offering $112,000 a year salary

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The city of Ottawa is officially looking to hire a ‘night mayor,’ offering a salary of nearly $112,000 a year for someone to develop the city’s nightlife economy and try to shake off the reputation as the town that fun forgot.

Council approved a new Ottawa Nightlife Economy Action Plan last year, which is designed to support the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. economy and nightlife in Ottawa. Ottawa’s nightlife-related businesses employ more than 38,000 people, according to the city.

One of the recommendations called for the establishment of a ‘Nightlife Commissioner Office,’ with the so-called ‘night mayor’ working with businesses, city officials, regulators and the public to deliver a new plan to support Ottawa’s nightlife.

The job posting for the ‘Nightlife Commissioner’ appeared on the city of Ottawa’s website Thursday evening.

“You serve as an ambassador and facilitator of the city’s nightlife economy and lead the implementation of the Nightlife Economy Action Plan that aims to develop a foundation from which Ottawa can build on its competitive strengths and address challenges in the development and delivery of nightlife infrastructure, amenities, and experiences,” the posting says.

“You balance community safety and well-being, quality of life and commercial vibrancy across the city between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.”

The posting says the ‘nightlife commissioner’ will liaise with other corporate branches and departments including other local, provincial, national and international agencies, the private sector and other levels of government to develop and implement partnerships related to nightlife development.

According to the posting, the nightlife strategy will focus on safety, cultural tourism/industry initiatives, economic development and commercial vibrancy.”

The job requirements for the ‘nightlife commissioner’ includes language proficiency in English for oral, reading and writing and French oral and reading.

Candidates are asked to have completed a four-year bachelor degree in either Hospitality, Tourism, Business Administration, Commerce, Economics, Recreology, Public/Business Administration, Recreation, Leisure Studies and or related fields, and five years’ experience in the public or not-for-profit sector, economic development, urban planning, arts and culture or community organizations that intersect with the nightlife economy.

The job posting closes on March 1. 

The 2024 city of Ottawa budget included a $160,000 budget to implement the nightlife action plan.

The ‘nightlife economy’ focuses on leisure, live entertainment and cultural activities during the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. period, and will not solely focus on bar and restaurant activity.

The first phase of the action plan includes promoting city-wide and neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood participation of residents, visitors and businesses in the nightlife economy. Phase 2 in 2024 to 2026 will include establishing a Nightlife Ambassador Council and developing a city-wide Nightlife Safety and Security Plan for nightlife workers and participants.

The city of Ottawa plans to promote the ‘Nightlife Commissioner’ job posting through social media, and is asking councillors to “engage, repost and share content.”

The city’s newsletter states, “The Nightlife Commissioner will serve as the steward of the city’s nightlife economy and help shape the future of Ottawa’s nightlife.

“They will collaborate with partners and stakeholders to influence and enhance community safety and wellbeing, quality of life and commercial vibrancy across the city and create a more vibrant, diverse, inclusive, viable, safe and well-managed nightlife for residents, visitors and businesses.”

Residents want a focus on safety and security

Ottawa residents had a variety of opinions on the city’s new initiative. Many are hoping to see a revitalization of the downtown core with a focus on safety and security, including the ByWard Market.

“I’m hoping that the night mayor fixes the nightmare that the market has become over the past few years,” said Clarendon Tavern General Manager Jeff Taylor. “There’s very few bodies coming to the market and I think the homeless situation, the mental health issues, and the drug issues have kind of exacerbated that.”

Other business owners and visitors agreed.

“One of the biggest concerns we have here in as business owners in the market is with safety and security,” said Grand Pizzeria Co-Owner David Mangano.

“Somebody to make people feel safe to come down to the market – I think it would add a lot,” said Calgary tourist Dan Duguay. 

One tourist from Toronto said he wants to see a focus on live music.

“Live bands going later into the night – that’s stuff we love to do together,” said Matthew Connors alongside partner Joanne Armstrong.

New York City launched an Office of Nightlife in 2017, while Washington, D.C. first appointed a ‘night mayor’ in 2018. Amsterdam, London, England, and Prague are among the cities around the world with a ‘night mayor.’

The city of Toronto has a Night Economy Ambassador, while Vancouver has announced plans for a new ‘Night Office’ to reimagine the city’s nightlife and boost the hospitality sector.

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Sam Houpt

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